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The Art of Flower Photography

Lesson 3 of 16

Accessories For Flower Photography

 

The Art of Flower Photography

Lesson 3 of 16

Accessories For Flower Photography

 

Lesson Info

Accessories For Flower Photography

So if this isn't getting you close enough, you need some accessories to add to your lenses and we're gonna talk about that rather than buying a new lens. First thing I want to talk about are extension tubes. And extension tubes are hollow rings that go between your lens and your camera. Mine are Kenko. I like them very much and they come in three different sizes and I always start with the smallest size. It's a hollow ring so you don't have to worry about bad glass or anything like that. And that just goes between your lens and your camera. So this is 12 millimeter. There's a 20, a 36. And then you can combine them. You can put the small one with the medium, the medium with the large. There are seven different options that you can do to get closer. So you could take that lens, that 50 millimeter lens, and get much closer to your subject by just adding an extension tube. And I think they're about 100 dollars. It's not like buying a whole new lens. So I would always suggest if you feel l...

ike you can't get close enough, try extension tubes first before you make a big purchase. So here's my 50 millimeter lens at f/ with no extension tubes. That's as close as I could get. And here it is with the 12 millimeter, the smallest one. That's quite a difference. Let's go back; from that to that. And then if I add the medium tube, I'm here. All at f/8; I have not changed my aperture. And the largest tube. Notice what also happens is that you reduce depth of field when you add a tube. So you have to think about that and compensate for that. So you might need to stop down to a much smaller aperture to get as much in focus as you did without the tube. So watch how there's a little less in focus every time. And that's just as close as I could get with the largest tube. I didn't stack them. That's just with the individual tubes. So you could get just a small curve if you'd stack probably just two together. You wouldn't even need all three. And here, again, 50 millimeter f/ but here's all three tubes. So, you know, this is just... I think this is kind of boring. It's just a plain shot of a peony. But look what getting close can do. It can create a much more artistic shot, but also that's also at f/ and look how little depth of field that I have now. So you always have to think about that when you're putting a macro accessory on, is that you might need to have more depth of field than you had planned. You can also use close up filters and macro diopters. They just are glass rings and just screw right onto the end of your lens. You can get higher quality individual ones, you just need to know your thread size. Or you can get inexpensive packs of four different ones. And I use these with my Lensbabies to get close. And this is the Lensbaby Soft Focus with the plus 10 macro attachment that I just showed you. So I could keep the overall softness, but I could get in close to make that one drop a focal point. Other accessories that you can use. Let's talk about these. This one is called The Stick. Let's start with the The Plamp. (laughs) And you can attach one end to your tripod or to a branch of a tree, a stick, anything, and this part to your flower. So what you could do with this is you could attach it instead to a distracting element that you wanted to move out of a scene. You could attach it to a flower that you wanted to add to the background as sort of an echo flower in the background. Or you could just use it to keep your stem still in a windy situation. And these are great. This is The Stick and it works in a similar way except you can stick this into the ground so that you don't have to be using your tripod or anything. And then use this in the same way. Just gently clip onto the flower and it won't cause damage. Move things into the scene, move things out of the scene. Also, you can use it to hold your diffuser or your reflector if you don't have an assistant, which I never have an assistant, so (laughs) it works really well. The only issue with these is that they're expensive. So I came up with a way to make my own and I made two of these for five dollars. So there are these little clips that you can buy at the dollar store. These were a dollar for those two. And this is called a quick strip and you get them at hardware stores. They're for hanging things in garages and that sort of thing, but it's really stiff and it works as well. And like I said, it's under five dollars. And I can make a base because it's so stiff that it will just stay flat on the ground, and then use it in the same way; pulling things in, pulling things out. It's great for moving distractions out of your scene. And there it is all put together and I'm using it to diffuse light in my garden, but you can see I didn't even have to attach the base to anything because it's stiff enough to just lay flat. Those are really handy. And here I used it to keep the flower steady. I already had soft light and a little bit of a breeze. So I attached it to the tulip to keep that steady. The other thing that I use a lot are clothespins. I use them individually and then my favorite way is to glue two together like this. And then you would attach part of the clothespin to it could be the stem of your flower, it could be the stem of a distraction. And you attach this part to something over here. So you grab onto that distraction and you're pulling it out. And they cost pennies. And I just glued them together. I have them in large sizes and I have them in small sizes. And then I have this set up as well. Two glued together this way. Depending on what I need to move out of the way. And with the small. And they're my favorite thing to have in my bag. And let me show you how I use them. So I was at the Botanical Gardens two weeks ago near my house and I saw this beautiful peony. It had a lot of bugs on it, flying bugs. And it was tucked in in the shade and it was a really bright sunny day. So the first thing that I did was take my double clothespins and pulled gently. Pulled those branches away to get to the flower and you can see I also blew away the bugs. (laughs) I don't usually use brushes. I know people keep small paintbrushes in their bags. You just blow them away and you usually have a couple of minutes before they come back. So that I could get the light on it. And here's my shot. So I went from that to that with just clothespins and moving some bugs out of the way. So you definitely need some clothespins in your bag. The other thing that I like to use is a Flower Pod and it's made by a guy called Les Saucier. And I'll have links for everything for you in a PDF to go along with the class. But I call this my assistant in a bag. And it's three parts. It's a mini tripod with telescoping legs and then this part clicks on with a magnet. And I can make it as tall as I need to make it and put my diffuser or my reflector in here at any angle so that I don't need an assistant and I can soften the light by myself. It also comes with another magnetic piece so that you can use it stuck in the ground as well. This was the older model and I like it best. He's just come out with a new model, which is just this. And you have to attach it. It'll thread to a tripod. You could pick up a really inexpensive video tripod and use it with that or even I use it more for lower shots with a GorillaPod and it just screws right onto there and I can do flowers that closer to the ground; add light or diffuse light, whichever I need. And then these are just handy things to have. I found these in the marine store. My husband is a lobster man. I spend a lot of time in marine stores. And these are great when there's a distraction that you could easily pull out of the frame. So I just bend it, loop it around, and pull that distraction right out. Very simple. It's small, lightweight, easy to keep in your bag. Okay now this is the, like I said, the older Flower Pod and here's how I use the newer one. That's with my GorillaPod. In my bag. I want to talk about what I bring to a garden and as you can see by this picture, there's one thing you don't see me using and that's a tripod. I don't shoot my flowers with a tripod unless I'm shooting in the house, low light, and I want deep depth of field. And I always use it for landscapes. I just don't use if for flowers. Generally there's plenty of light. My knees and elbows can keep me pretty steady, but if I had any trouble with focus or I am not able to hand hold anymore, I'll be on a tripod really fast. So if you can't, not everybody can do that, so I'm not saying you don't need a tripod because you very well might. So if you're not getting the sharpness that you want or you're trying to shoot at a small aperture with not a lot of shutter speed, you definitely need to be on a tripod. And I travel light when I go to a garden. I don't take your typical backpack or bag. This is actually a cooler bag that I also got at the marine store. It has two zippered compartments and it's waterproof. So I can put my accessories in one side and my lenses in the other and I don't have to carry it on my back. I can put it down in something muddy and I can wipe it off and it works great. And I also always bring a trash bag because often a garden will have been freshly watered and you'll be kneeling in mud or trying to put your bag in mud. And it's just a handy thing to have to protect your gear. So when I'm going to a garden, I'll generally have my 180 millimeter, I'll have my Lensbaby Velvet, my Lensbaby Sweet 50 in the bag with me. And I can shoot pretty much anything I need with that. And I'll also have my assistant in a bag and anything that I need to add macro. Either the extension tubes or the diopters to screw on the end.

Class Description

AFTER THIS CLASS YOU’LL BE ABLE TO:

  • Choose the right macro lenses
  • Build the ideal photography gear kit
  • Find (or create) the best light for macro shots
  • Know where to place small objects in the frame
  • Set the correct aperture and exposure
  • Master close focusing with depth of field
  • Confidently capture macro work of any type of flower

ABOUT KATHLEEN’S CLASS:

Flowers are the perfect subjects for both beginning and professional photographers alike. Not only can they be found almost anywhere, but they offer a wide range of colors, textures, and shapes to explore and experiment with. But as perfect as flowers are for photography, the dominance of similar pictures makes it hard to capture a unique image.

This course takes you on an in-depth journey into the glories of flower photography, with expert photographer Kathleen Clemons as your guide. You’ll learn everything you need to know to take captivating shots that will wow your audience and celebrate the beauty of nature. Learn how to take flower photographs that stand out.

In this class, you'll learn how to spot the best flower to photograph with your naked eye, whether you want to capture artistic or documentary images. The flower will become the star of the shot as you learn to eliminate distractions in the background. At the end of the class, work confidently with fields of flowers and single flowers, at each stage in their life cycle.

Whether you have a Nikon, Canon, Sony, or mirrorless camera body, Kathleen will show you all the essential tools of flower photography, from macro lenses to plant clamps to extension tubes. She’ll cover technical details such as aperture settings and your depth of field, as well as stylistic issues such as composition, backgrounds, and close-up or macro shots. The course ends with a demonstration of a real shoot in a garden so you can see Kathleen in action as she takes different angles and close-up images of different flowers and flower petals.

WHO THIS CLASS IS FOR:

  • All levels of photographers interested in macro photography.
  • Photographers who want to learn how to shoot close-up images of small subjects.
  • Photographers who want to better understand special equipment for shooting macro and how to deal with difficult lighting situations.

ABOUT YOUR INSTRUCTOR:

Kathleen Clemons is a nature photographer known for her painting-like images of flowers. The Maine-based photographer works with Corbis and Getty images. While she's known for her photography, Kathleen also has a degree in education, which she mixes with her passion for flower to teach other macro photographers.

Lessons

  1. Introduction: Why Take Pictures Of Flowers

    In the first lesson, meet the instructor and gain insight into why flowers make an excellent subject.

  2. Lenses For Flower Photography

    Start the discussion on gear by diving into macro lenses for life-size, true macro. Learn what focal lengths are ideal for flower photography with a dedicated macro lens. Consider the pros of the longer focal lengths and longer focusing distance in a telephoto lens. Dig into specialty lenses like manual focus Lensbaby glass.

  3. Accessories For Flower Photography

    Photography accessories can help extend the possibilities of your gear. Extension tubes can help you to get even closer to the subject. Accessories like close up filters and macro diopters can also help get close to macro subjects. To simplify macro photography, other inexpensive accessories like clips and clothespins can also help set up the perfect shot.

  4. Lighting For Flower Photography

    Light should be the first thing you look at in photography, Kathleen says. Learn why there's no such thing as bad light for flower photography and how to work around different difficult lighting scenarios. Master tricks to working in any light, like using a diffuser to create your own soft light. Work with diffusers and reflectors to improve your macro images using just a few inexpensive accessories. Kathleen also shares her tips for making your own background when the existing one isn't working for the shot.

  5. Exposure And Aperture Choice

    The camera's f-stop setting affects the depth of field of the image, or how much of the image is in focus. But in any type of close-up photography, getting in close to your subject exaggerates that depth of field. Learn how to control the depth of field using aperture, with a small aperture allowing for sharp textured flowers or a wide aperture for dreamy, ethereal images. Then, understand how distance plays a role in depth of field.

  6. Figuring Out Where To Focus

    A single point or selective focus mode allows for an exact focus when working with macro subjects. But where do you focus? In this lesson, Kathleen discusses how to choose the focal point in flower photography for both images with soft focus and sharp images with a narrow aperture. Learn how to mix selective focus and aperture to capture amazing flower images without using techniques like focus stacking. Then, work with foreground elements to add blur to the front of the image.

  7. Flower Photography Composition

    Compositional rules limit your vision, Kathleen suggests -- instead, she suggests guidelines for creating powerful images of flowers. In this lesson, gain insight into when it's okay to center the subject and when it's best to push the flower off-center. Look for angles, lines and curves to help guide your choice on how to compose. And when in doubt, experiment.

  8. Flower Photography Black Background

    Backgrounds are as important as the subject, Kathleen says, and shouldn't be ignored. The background of macro pictures, she suggests, should contribute to the story. Learn to identify good backgrounds and how to integrate them into the image without distracting from the subject, as well as background elements to avoid.

  9. Learning To See Your Subject

    Why does a particular flower capture your eye over another? Learning to recognize what grabs your eye is essential to finding the best flower subjects. In this lesson, Kathleen discusses several elements to look for when choosing a subject for flower photography. Master the ability to spot a unique image.

  10. Shooting Flower Life Stages And The Flower Dance

    A flower can quickly change from one day to the next. Learn what to look for as a flowers go through different stages, from buds to the prime, fresh flowers to "senior" flowers. Then, Kathleen explains the "dance" that she looks for -- how the curves and shapes of a flower can look human-like.

  11. Add Textures To Photos In Post Processing

    Dive into post-processing in this lesson, as Kathleen explains how she gets some of the painterly quality her work is known for by adding texture in Photoshop. Learn when to determine whether or not an image needs texture. Explore different software options.

  12. Tips For Choosing Flowers For Photography

    Shooting strategies can vary based on the type of flower that you are shooting. Gain tips and insight into working with different types of flowers in this lesson, including roses, calla lilies, poppies, daisies and tulips.

  13. Flower Photography Tips

    Sometimes, it's the little things that make the biggest differences in macro photography. In this lesson, Kathleen shares flower and macro photography tips along with other tidbits to consider as you are out photographing flowers. From experimenting to knowing your gear, gain quick tips for better flower photography.

  14. Botanical Gardens Flower Photo Shoot

    Go behind the scenes as Kathleen shoots at a public garden. Learn basic garden etiquette then get a behind-the-scenes look at how a professional flower photographer works. Hear Kathleen's thought process as she composes her shots and works in the garden. Learn how to work a subject and get multiple compositions from the same bush.

  15. Photo Critiques

    Learn what to look for in a great macro photo as Kathleen critiques student work. Gain insight into how to improve your own work by viewing critiques of images by students like you.

  16. Clip Art Everyday

    In the final lesson, gain one final tip to fine-tune your work as Kathleen discusses ways to build your flower photography skills every day.

Reviews

user-934e3d
 

What a fantastic class! Kathleen Clemons' presentation was well-organized and offered exceptional how-to advice along with actual gear and beautiful slides which demonstrated her points. I felt as though she were talking to me personally and truly wanting me to be successful. Her explanations of technique, accompanied with video of her in the gardens using the camera was very helpful. In addition, I found her critiques most enlightening, and I learned a great deal about how to improve my own images from them. In short--this was an exceptional class, and Kathleen Clemons is an amazing teacher. I have watched the class twice and plan to purchase it for continued review and reflection. Anyone who wants to photograph flowers artistically needs this class. Thank you, CreativeLive, for this wonderful presentation by Kathleen Clemons.

Julianne Carlson
 

Thank you Kathleen for taking the time to share your wonderful knowledge and technique's with us through this 5 star course. Your breathtaking ethereal images are a true inspiration and I can't wait to get out there and practice with my new Lensbaby velvet. Not only was this course a wonderful tutorial for photographing flower subject but much of your instruction can be used when photographing all of nature. This is the best Creative Live class I have taken yet!

a Creativelive Student
 

Kathleen Clemons is a wonderful teacher who communicates a powerful passion for flower photography. I learned so much from her about how to see and capture the beauty of a flower using macro lenses. As I launched into this new area of photography, I felt equipped and free to experiment and learn and grow. As I looked through the viewfinder of my camera, it's almost as though Kathleen was right there with me - I saw how to focus in on one area of the flower, then another, and change aperture settings to impact the depth of field, and experiencing the intricate beauty of God's creation. The ultimate moments for me were the images captured as a result of everything I learned. I highly recommend Kathleen Clemons as a teacher and this amazing class, The Art Of Flower Photography. Review by Catherine Martin